Thursday, May 14, 2015

Kennedy memorial at Runnymede dedicated by Queen Elizabeth II

May 14, 1965

Today, in a "little corner of the English meadow where the idea of constitutional government first stirred 750 years ago," was dedicated to the "memory of President Kennedy, reports the New York Times.

In a "simple ceremony,"  Queen Elizabeth II "bequeathed three acres to the American people as a memorial" to President Kennedy, who was assassinated last November 22, while on a visit to Dallas, Texas.

In 1215 at Runnymede, the barons of England forced King John to sign the Magna Carta,.  The king was "henceforth bound to observe certain liberties of his subjects," a concept "whose power is still felt in world politics.

President Kennedy's widow, Jacqueline, wearing white, "sat silently through the ceremony, composed as ever, displaying no emotion."

This was not a "funereal occasion," although there was sadness and memories, with the talk of history and John F. Kennedy's "place in it."  It was a warm day, the "sun was out, bright and hot," and the temperature was in the eighties.

Arrangers chose not to make the ceremony too somber.  Mrs. Kennedy waited for the queen with her two children, Caroline, 7 and 4-year-old John.  The late president's brothers, Senators Robert F and Edward M. Kennedy and two of their sisters, Mrs. Peter Lawford and Mrs. Stephen Smith were also present. 

The met the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh and all walked together up a slope, nearly a quarter of a mile to the memorial site.

They stood in silence for several moments in front of a "simple memorial stone that had been placed in a curve of the hill."  The inscription reads: "This acre of English ground was given to the United States of America by the people of Britain in memory of John F. Kennedy, President of the United States, 1961-63, died by an assassin's hand, 22 November 1963. 

"Let every nation know whether it wishes us well or ill that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend or oppose any foe in order to assure the survival and success of liberty."

As the small group stood before the monument, Caroline Kennedy held her mother's hand on one side, and the "queen's hand on the other.  The Duke of Edinburgh held John Kennedy's hand.

Prime Minister Macmillan pointed out that this gift was not "main gift" of the British people in the late President's memory.  They have donated more than $2.3 million for scholarships to allow young Britons to study at American universities.

The Runnymede memorial was one of "many proposals" received by the Kennedy Memorial Trust.   Although the author of the idea has not been named, it is understood that this was Queen Elizabeth's idea.

Secretary of State Dean Rusk accepted the gift of land for the United States.

After the ceremony, Mrs. Kennedy and her party were driven to Windsor Castle where they had tea with the Queen and Prince Philip.

1 comment:

Holly B. said...

I love the photo where Prince Philip is holding little John's hand. How sweet!